DAILY CATHOLIC -    Wednesday, April 22, 1998   volume 9, no. 78


by Father John Hampsch, C.M.F.

Faith: Key to the Heart of God

Thirty-Sixth Installment: Vertical Growth: Our Cooperation part four

      It's important to remember that we can pray for faith as the apostles did (Luke 17:5): "Lord, increase our faith." After all, "The Lord is the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2). He’s the source and the end, the alpha and omega (Revelations 1:11). We turn to Him knowing that the Lord wants us to have faith and that He will generously give it to us as He supplies all our needs (cf. Acts 14:17). We should pray to be lifted up to that next level of faith, while asking also that any gaps in our faith be filled up. The "Lord-I-know-you-can" prayer of faith then becomes a "Lord-I-know-you-will prayer.

      Then be willing to act in faith. Good works affirm and authenticate our faith (James 2:17). Neglect of good works is ultimately neglect of Christ ("{If you neglect to do it unto one of the least of these my brethern, you neglect to do it unto me." Matthew 15:45). James says faith without good works is dead (James 2:17). It takes a tremendous act of faith to see and relate to Christ in your fellow man. If you look at a skid row derelict merely as a repulsive person, your faith is retarded. To see instead the precious dignity and nobility of that skid row derelict created in the image of God and destined for heaven—something incredibly awesome—requires faith in large measure. To act towards that person, using that "insight", requires even greater faith.

      You can’t practice charity if you don’t have faith. Only the eyes of faith allow you to see the Christ presence in a wino—or even to see the Christ presence in someone you live with who gets on your nerves. It takes deep faith to look beyond the shadow to this substance, and see a precious soul redeemed by Christ. You can’t act on faith without first having faith. That is, you can’t perform good works if you don’t first have faith to activate the charity. Faith is the basic virtue in life’s struggles, for I John 5:4 says, "Our victory over the world is through our faith." Peter speaks about this whole idea of active, operational faith enhanced by its "additions"" "To obtain these gifts, you need more than faith, you must also work hard to be good, you must learn to know God better, discover what He wants you to do (God’s will). You must learn to put aside your own desires so you become patient and godly, gladly letting God have His way with you (holy abandonment). That will make the next step possible which is freedom to enjoy other people and to like them and finally grow to love them dearly. The more you go on this way the more you will grow strong spiritually and become fruitful and useful to our Lord Jesus Christ. Anyone who fails to go after these additions is blind indeed, or at least very shortsighted, and has forgotten that God delivered him from the old life of sin. But now we can live a strong, good new life for the Lord" (II Peter 1:3-9). Faith has to be implemented, Peter seems to be saying.

Next Installment: Vertical Growth:Our Cooperation - part five

april 22, volume 9, no. 78         DAILY CATHOLIC - COLUMNS